1 (833) 247-3652

Recruitment Advice – How to Conduct a Return to Work Interview


The return to work interview presents employers with the opportunity to build a strong relationship with their employees, while managing absence in the workplace.

Did you know?

According to Statistics Canada, in 2016, 7.8% of Canada’s workforce was absent due to illness, disability, or parental leave. Specific to Ontario, employee absenteeism totaled to 6.8% of work time lost due to personal leaves of absence. Do you have an effective policy and procedure in place, to manage employee absence? Is the return to work interview included in your employment contract? Peninsula has the resources to help you conduct a successful return to work interview.

8 Benefits of the return to work interview

The return to work interview is the opportunity to conduct an informal check-in with employees who have been absent from work. Whether an employee has been away from work for one sick day or an extended term, such as parental leave, the discussion is beneficial for many reasons. Here’s why the interview benefits employers:

  1. The return to work interview is an opportunity to welcome back your employee
  2. You’re able to update your employee on any changes within your organization
  3. If necessary, you can identify any workplace adjustments
  4. You’re able to discuss the reasons for absence
  5. If necessary, you can confirm that your employee’s record of absence is correct; this helps to manage workplace absence, particularly with smaller organizations
  6. You’re able to ensure your employee is ready to come back; this is important for workplace culture, productivity, and health and safety
  7. You’re able to discuss any other concerns your employee might have
  8. It is an opportunity to build a trusting and open relationship with your employee, if approached appropriately
Tips to conduct the return to work interview

When conducting a return to work interview, as an employer it is useful to think about your approach, the context of your discussion, and the outcome you’re aiming for. Here are a few tips:

  • Schedule the interview on your employee’s first day back to work
  • Prepare with talking points; if you have a return to work plan, you can use this to guide your discussion and highlight specific points
  • Keep a copy of your sick leave policy on hand, and if necessary, have your employee’s contract of employment available for reference
The Logistics
  • The meeting should be held in private as a one-on-one meeting between you and your employee (or their direct supervisor)
  • The interview is a quick informal check-in (unless the circumstances require greater discussion)
  • Prepare a checklist and interview form to file for your employee records
The Interview
  • Welcome back the employee and state the purpose of the return to work interview
  • Ask the appropriate questions, including:
    • What is their reason for absence?
    • Are they ready to return to work?
    • What can you do to support their return?
  • Discuss any concerns, challenges, or changes that are applicable to the employee, such as:
    • Workplace adjustments
    • Company announcements
    • Absence discrepancies
  • Record the discussion, particularly for any disciplinary actions and have the employee sign the interview form to confirm
How do you manage employee absenteeism in the workplace?

For further guidance with employee management or to request a return to work interview template, look no further. Call Peninsula’s complimentary 24/7 advice line. Our expert team of HR professionals can get you set up right away. It’s as easy as dialing 1(833) 247-3652.